Unused COVID vaccination needles donated to Las Vegas clinic for safe drug use

Published: Jul. 21, 2022 at 8:29 AM PDT
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LAS VEGAS, Nev. (FOX5) - Throughout the pandemic, drug use has soared, and drugs on the streets hold more danger than ever. One Las Vegas clinic is working to save lives by using leftover syringe parts meant for COVID-19 vaccines.

The staff at Trac B said their medical work can be misunderstood or face stigmas, but as drug use and accidental deaths have surged in Nevada and nationwide, they said their work is saving lives.

“Approximately about 85% increase, because those were dealing with stress isolation, medical issues, the social disparities,” HIV linage care coordinator Krystal Griffin said. “They’re able to use a to receive 20 needles a day. That alleviates the transmission or harm of use needles being out there in the community, and also helps with the the alleviation of diseases being spreads such as HIV and Hep C.”

Trac B is a needle exchange program. Patients can turn in used needles and get clean ones. The Nevada Legislature gave the green light for clinics like it to exist back in 2013.

During the pandemic, as the feds rolled out hundreds of millions of vaccines nationwide, doctors’ offices across the valley found themselves with spare syringes, needles and parts. Clinics have been bringing them to Trac B, giving them a new purpose.

“Some of the services that we offer are government funded or we accept insurance. Don’t just buy for the syringe purposes, those are free. And we also do take accept donations towards the syringes,” Griffin said.

The clinic also offers STD testing and fentanyl test strips. Even small amounts of fentanyl can be fatal.

“Participants can come in without being judged, without being overlooked, to make them feel whole, and to address their behaviors,” Griffin said. “And when they’re ready, that’s when we have our peer support specialists, we have one on staff daily, to be able to assist the client in a positive manner without any, any judgment and any barriers.”

The clinic said they offer substance abuse treatment and counseling. The moment someone asks, they make sure patients get every resource they need to stop using drugs permanently.